Monday, December 4, 2023

NASA Launches Mini Satellites to Track Hurricanes

New Satellite Constellation Aims to Improve Tropical Cyclone Predictions

NASA has launched two small satellites to track tropical cyclones, providing more frequent and detailed data to improve weather predictions and our understanding of these powerful storms


NASA recently launched two small satellites from New Zealand, designed to track tropical cyclones on an hourly basis. These satellites will complement existing larger satellites, providing more detailed information on storms’ evolution. With two more satellites scheduled for launch in the coming weeks, the completed constellation could improve hurricane forecasting, helping coastal residents prepare for potential evacuations.

Launching New Storm Trackers

The newly launched satellites, part of NASA’s TROPICS mission, can fly over hurricanes or typhoons every hour, compared to the six-hour intervals of current satellites. This increased frequency will provide researchers with valuable insights into how storms develop and change over time.

Enhancing Weather Predictions

The data gathered by these small satellites will help scientists determine a hurricane’s landfall location and intensity, ultimately enabling better preparation for possible evacuations. “Many operational organizations like the National Hurricane Center and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and many others are ready to receive tropical imagery to help inform their forecasters,” said Ben Kim, a program executive at NASA.

Future Satellite Launches

In about two weeks, a second Rocket Lab-built vessel will launch two more satellites, completing the constellation of four storm-tracking satellites. The original plan was for six satellites, but two were lost in a launch mishap last year.

Climate Model Implications

In the long term, a better understanding of the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones could improve climate models, as these storms are becoming more powerful due to rising ocean surface temperatures.


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